‘Alien: Covenant’ Review

Director: Ridley Scott

Writers: John Logan and Dante Harper

Cast: Michael Fassbender, Katherine Waterston, Billy Crudup, Danny McBride, Demian Bichir, Carmen Ejogo, Jussie Smollett, Callie Hernandez, Amy Seimetz, and Guy Pearce

Synopsis: The crew of a colony ship, bound for a remote planet, discover an uncharted paradise with a threat beyond their imagination, and must attempt a harrowing escape.

 

*Reviewer Note: This will be a spoiler free review.*

 

I’m going to start off the review with this, I didn’t mind Prometheus. Was it a perfect film? No, it wasn’t, and even I can see the faults the film had. But the amount of bashing and hate the film received when the film was released was a bit too much. One of the problems that I do wholeheartedly believe was wrong with Prometheus wasn’t in the movie itself, it was the audience. I get it, it’s hard not to get really excited over a film. I do it, and I’m sure you do it too. But I remember the hype level for Prometheus and it was ridiculously over that I shut myself out from reading anything about the film before it came out. And I get it, I do, Alien has a special place in many people’s hearts – as it should – but people got themselves way to hyped up that they were disappointed with Prometheus because it wasn’t what they thought or wanted it to be.

So this brings us to Alien: Covenant. Not only is the film a sequel to Prometheus it’s also more of a step closer to reaching the point we saw in Alien. Not only is the film a continuation of what we saw before, but they go back to the early roots – a sci-fi horror film with the famous Xenomorph we have all learned to fear and love.

Covenant follows the colony ship called The Covenant, which is filled with couples, that is on the way to a new planet to start a new life. The only person awake and not in cryosleep is the android Walter (Michael Fassbender) who, like his predecessor David (also played by Fassbender), watches over the ship. However, an accident occurs that causes Walter to wake the crew members which results in some of them dying, including the captain. While the crew makes repairs they receive a mysterious transmission from a nearby undiscovered planet that is also perfect for them to inhabit. This leaves newly appointed, and untested, captain Oram (Billy Crudup) with a tough decision: go to the unknown planet that sent the transmission or continue the original course – of course, there wouldn’t be a movie if he chose the latter. The decision isn’t met with much agreement from the ship’s second-in-command, and chief terraformer Daniels (Katherine Waterston).

As we see in the trailers, a group heads to the planet seeing it as a perfect replacement, but soon they discover the origin of their transmission – the ship from Prometheus. As they try to explore more, two of the crew members get sick and as they try to head back they get stopped by the new creations Neomorphs, which of course, come bursting out of the sick crew members. The remaining members get saved by a mysterious figure who tells them to follow him. Skipping ahead, they discover that it’s David who is the only surviving member of the Prometheus. The crew later find out that the planet isn’t really all that safe.

Alien: Covenant is hard for me to judge. Almost like Prometheus, this movie is good until it isn’t. Ridley Scott knows how to direct sci-fi films, and the visuals here are pretty damn great, along with the combination of the landscapes that are beautiful, but the problem comes to some of the characters. While Prometheus didn’t focus on all the characters, you at least knew what all of them did. Covenant missteps on that a bit, as it only focuses on the bigger characters, making every other character just a prop for the Neomorphs and the Xenomorph to kill.

Fassbender is great once again as the androids David and Walter, and kudos to Fassbender for making the two vastly different in every way. Katherine Waterston joins the Alien franchise of female leading ladies, but her character only gets the time to shine when David or Walter aren’t around. Billy Crudup’s Captain Oram is a mixed bag and doesn’t really get earn his place until one of the bigger moments of the film – and I’ll be interested in seeing how people take and accept that scene. Danny McBride would be the next, and potentially final, big character in the film as one of the Covenant’s pilots named Tennessee. Surprisingly to some maybe, McBride does crack jokes in the film, but is one of the more grounded and down-to-earth characters in the film.

The rest of the cast is pretty much cannon fodder, Demian Bichir plays Lope, one of the head military leaders, who is actually in relationship with Hallet (Nathaniel Dean), but it never pays out as it should. Camen Ejogo plays Oram’s wife and biologist, who believes in Oram that he can lead the crew in a good direction, Amy Seimetz plays Faris, Tennessee’s wife, and the other pilot of the ship that is probably the best of the supporting characters, but she doesn’t get enough screen time.

Covenant does have the feeling of an Alien film, with the suspense, but it’s not as revved up as it should have been. Even the action scenes aren’t all that great and they end pretty quickly, which is a shame considering the previous Alien battles. When it focuses on the themes bought up in Prometheus, it extends them and while I won’t go into them in details – due to spoilers – it all comes down to David.

All in all, Alien Covenant is a frustrating movie. It’s a good movie until it isn’t, and when it becomes a bad movie it’s hard to get out of it. However, the big thing that does make me angry and disappointed, is some of the things bought up in Prometheus are not fleshed out or are completely erased which makes Covenant in some ways another rehash of ideas. I would still recommend Covenant to people, but keep your expectations low.

Alien Covenant

3 out of 5

‘The Guest’ Review

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Dir: Adam Wingard

Cast: Dan Stevens, Maika Monroe, Brendan Meyer, Sheila Kelley, Leland Orser, Tabatha Shaun, Joel David Moore, and Lance Reddick

Synopsis: A soldier introduces himself to the Peterson family, claiming to be a friend of their son who died in action. After the young man is welcomed into their home, a series of accidental deaths seem to be connected to his presence

 

 

 

*Reviewer Note:  This will be a spoiler free review*

 

 

The team of Adam Wingard and Simon Barrett is one that I’m starting to fully invest in. They caught eyes of general audiences with You’re Next and segments in V/H/S and its sequel. But they also made a highly enjoyable survivor thriller A Horrible Way to Die but with this new movie The Guest, Wingard who serves as the director and Barrett as the writer, they bring a great homage to the old movies of James Carpenter and 70s and 80s horror/thriller films.

 

The movie starts off with Laura Peterson (Kelley) who is grieving over the death of her son Caleb when a mysterious charming man shows up calming to be an old army friend named David (Stevens). He quickly wins over the family that includes the bullied son Luke (Meyer), rebellious daughter Anna (Monroe), and frustrated husband Spencer (Orser). Soon though, we start to realize that David is not who he says he is and terrible things start to happen.

 

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Almost like You’re Next, The Guest shares the same vibe as a movie from the 70s and 80s. It’s got action, dread, mystery, some dark comedy and catchy synthesizer music. Wingard knows exactly what he’s doing and finds the balance of all the tones running through the movie and manages to make every one of those moments enjoyable and fun to watch. It does have a rough part right before the final act but the nice thing is that even the characters are aware of it and even rolls their own eyes. In any other movie it would seem too self aware and cheesy and it is here, but considering the rest of the movie, it’s actually welcomed.

 

But The Guest isn’t just defined by its tone or feel, but by the performance of Dan Stevens. Stevens is wildly known for his performance in Downton Abbey, but never seeing the show, I can assume that this is nothing compared to what he’s done there. Stevens does a fantastic job of balancing David’s personalities through the movie. He has his charm about him and calls people “sir” and “ma’am” but the time it takes for him to get you to like him, David can switch to a menacing demeanor, which was truly frightening in some occasions. The nice thing is that he never really overdoes it and makes the movie hard to watch, in the sense that you never know what’s going to happen when David enters a room.

 

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The hard part is deciding what you think of David. He acts as a defender to the Peterson family – deals with some bullies for Luke – but since his actions are so brutal, it makes you think if the Petersons made the right choice in bringing in David or not. But, again, Stevens’ performance is so well done that you end up rooting for him, even though his actions are very exciting but brutal.

 

The other performances are a little hard to judge since we spend a lot of time with Stevens, and even when he’s not on screen the movie kind of slows down. Lance Reddick shows up as a man from David’s past and does what he can with the role but really goes nowhere expect to tell Anna about David. Brendan Meyer as Luke Peterson sees David as a friend and possibly surrogate brother as David teaches Luke to stand up for himself. Meyer does okay as the younger brother who finally finds someone he can talk to and a friend.

 

Finally there is Maika Monroe as Anna. The role really could have gone the way of Anna being a bit bitchy, but instead Anna is a bit standoffish, which is understandable once you understand the dynamic of the family. As the movie progress she suspects that David isn’t really who he says he is and rapidly sees David is a different light. Monroe is a relativity newcomer and manages to hold her own against Stevens. One particular scene stands out to me around the halfway point when Anna confronts David about who he is.

 

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All in all, The Guest has a great mixture of tones and pays a nice homage to other films from the past. With a great score and performance by Dan Stevens, The Guest is a fun, scary, and enjoyable ride from start to finish.

 

 

The Guest

4.5 out of 5